Surgery is not always an option for all cancer patients. This could be either due to age or certain health issues. For such people, radiosurgery is an appropriate option.
Radiosurgery is a radiation therapy that delivers high-power rays to treat cancers. Despite the name has surgery, there is no incision involved in this procedure. Unlike traditional radiation therapy, radiosurgery work by destroying the DNA of the tumour cells without causing much damage to the surrounding tissues.
People with brain and spinal cancer are good candidates for radiosurgery. Additionally, it is the best option for patients who are unfit for surgery or have any other health problems. However, based on the overall health of the patient, the doctor will decide whether the patient is eligible for stereotactic surgery or not.
PREPARATION BEFORE PROCEDURE
During the first consultation, your medical, medication and family history are reviewed. The doctor will discuss about the procedure, its benefits, and risks. You will be advised to undergo certain imaging tests to determine the size, location, and extent of the tumour.
You will be advised to take the following precautions:
- Inform the doctor about the use of current medicines, vitamins, and mineral supplements
- Inform the doctor if you have any medical devices, such as a pacemaker or stents
- Notify the doctor if you are allergic to any substance or medicines
- Avoid eating or drinking anything one night before the procedure
- Do not apply nail polish or any makeup on the day of the surgery
- Tell the doctor if you are claustrophobic
The following preparations are doneon the day of radiosurgery:
- Placement of head frame:Some types of radiosurgery require placement of the head frame. In those cases, the surgeon will numb the area where the pins of the head frame will be inserted. If linear accelerator radiosurgery is recommended, then a head frame is not required.
- Imaging tests: Once the head is immobilized, certain imaging tests are done to determine the exact location of the tumours.
- Planning the dose: Based on the size and location of the tumour, the surgeon will decide the appropriate dose. Planning the dose will take at least two hours.
Radiosurgery is of the following types:
- Gamma knife radiosurgery: High-focused gamma rays are directly passed on the tumours to treat small-to-medium seized brain tumours.
- Linear accelerator system:High energy X-rays are delivered for treating large tumours and abnormal lesions in the brain. It is sometimes referred to as CyberKnife technology.
- Proton beam therapy: Instead of gamma rays or X-rays, this therapy involves the usage of certain particles, such as protons or neutrons to treat small or irregular-shaped tumours.
During the treatment, you will be placed in a position where the treatment is required. The surgeon will now use a specialized machine to deliver high-dose radiation at the tumour site. In case of Gamma Knife, the bed will move around the machine, whereas in linear accelerator radiosurgery, the machine will spin around the head in different angles. The rays passed through the machine will shrink and destroy the tumours with minimal or no effect on the surrounding healthy tissues. In some cases, X-rays and CT scans are done during the procedure to monitor the position of tumours.
The head frame is removed, and you may have minor bleeding at the site where the pins were inserted. Headache and brain swelling is common, which can be managed by taking the prescribed medicines. In most of the cases, the patient will resume back to his/her regular activity within one to two days after the session.
Follow the instructions given belowfor faster recovery:
- Avoid stress
- Do not do strenuous activities for a few weeks
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid consumption of alcohol
- Stay physically active
- Perform breathing exercises